tv Charlie Rose PBS February 11, 2011 12:00pm-1:00pm EST
>> rose: welco to ouroam toght from cairo the story of egypt and its future unfolding as speak. >> i'm bbe with this newspdate for charlie rose. there s chaos in cairo today. egyptian presint hosni mubarak defied calls for his immediate resignation as thousands of protestors packed to tahr sqre. in a carefully worded address, mubaravoto sta on as presidt until elections slated for september. in a bid to placate his critics, he degated so powers to his vice president omar seiman but refud t quit out right. the crowds in tahrir square reacted with fury. we now return to charlie rose's
program taped earlier today in cairo. >> rose: we'll talk captioning sponsored by rose communications with mona el-naggar of the "new york times," david kirkpatrick of the "new york times" and max rodenbeck of the "economist" magazine. and we continue with tom friedman of the "new york times" here in cairo with me to examine a moment in history. a dramatic sto in egypt when weonnue. ybe u want school kids to have more exposure to the arts. maybe you want to provide meals for the needy. or maybe you want to help when the unexpected happens. whatever you want to do, members project from american express can help you take the first step. vote, volunteer, or donate for the causes you believe in at membersproject.com. take charge of making a difference.
captioning sponsored by this is charlie rose. >> rose: we're in cairo, egypt, this evening. we are close to tahrir square where egyptians have gathered since january 25 in protest against 30 years of rule by president hosni mubarak. in the square have been many young people, many professional people, many people young and old with a yearning to be able to express themselves and, yes, also members of the muslim brotherhood long-time opponents of the mubarak government. the demand of the protestors is the immediate resignation of the
president omar suleiman, the former egyptian intelligence chief director has been appointed vice president. he has been in contact with all sides. there is no solution as we record this to the three big issues: the immediate resignation of president mubarak, the end of emergency rule and the limb nation of harassment of political opponents and journalism. tomorrow is a crucial day. protestors have called for massive demonstrations in the square and the vice president as well as the foreign minister have warned of a coup if chaos prevails. the army at this point has not taken a stand. to understand this extraordinary moment in middle eastern history and all its ramifications we talk to columnist in tom friedman of the "new york times" and three journalists who have been on the ground covering this story since day one. they are david kirkpatrick, cairo bureau chief of the "new york times"; mona el-naggar, reporter for the "new york
times"; and max rodenbeck, chief middle east correspondent for the "economist" magazine. we begin this program, our first from cairo, with them. welcome. so what is the moment, max? where are we on the eve of friday and the cbs arabic has reported that the prime minister has said-- we just heard this moments ago-- has reported that the prime minister said that there are negotiations. what does all this mean? where's the moment? what's going on at this time? >> well, it's been an extraordinary two weeks, very, very up and down. everyday we wake up with different feelings and expectations. today there's a sort of sense of waiting because tomorrow, friday is expected to be perhaps the biggest popular demonstration yet. more people on the street than ever. so there's a moment of anticipation. and many people are expecting that the government may try to do something to either preempt
the demonstration or to meet the demands of the demonstrators. there are rumors that this might involve the resignation of president mubarak. that's been an outcome that's been logical throughout this because his continued presence as president has been really the focus of the demonstrators' demands. they want them to go. and if president mubarak goes, a lot of the unrest may end. so that's not an illogical outcome. the government, the regime, has been trying to find a solution that's within the context o t aew quit cod 'v tried a kofgs. ult docen iest tstn itutios alsintub
d f lution founthin t cstution, found ouid t cons relution. revn.s, ightis imyco >>lu you'reolands. much more stubborn, much less likely to go and the army here is very different. you know, the reason tunisia flipped so quickly is they have a very small, very professionalized, very apolitical army which was kind of a civil defense force less than an army. the army here is an interest group and a power player in egyptian politics and it has positioned itself with the revolution so far as a kind of king maker. what we've seen most vividly last week on wednesday night when a gang of thugs, basically, an army of thugs loyal to mubarak attacked the protestors in tahrir square, there was a war of rocks and molotov cocktails and clubs that went on for 12 hours. and for the whole time the thugs
coming in, the protestors building up their barricades, breaking up the sidewalks, throwing the rocks back, the army sat there behind the fence of the egyptian museum. their job, in their view, apparently was to protect the egyptian museum. so they watched these people bloodying each other for hours and hours and hours and they didn't take any steps. that has has unfolded they've positioned themselves as a neutral party and i think the question will be, if these rumors are true, mubarak leaves, what does that mean for the military? is the protestors in the street, the small group that's managing them, a group of young people are thinking, look, if we get the head of state down, it's over. that's what happened with the bolshevik revolution, that's what happened in the iranian revolution. then it's new regime. >> rose: not so? >> we don't know. we don't know whether the military will side with the people or maybe the military may yet come in and try to bolster up the hosni mubarak/suleiman regime. >> rose: is i it significant that suleiman and foreign
minister gheit have suggested that if chaos prevails a coup is a real possibility? i'm interested in those comments but the question is to what extent do they speak for the egyptian military? there's a gap between the top leaders and the uniformed officers before him. at the top they grew up under nassar, they trained in the soviet union. below that they grew up under sadat, they trained in the u.s. at the top... when the regime goes, they go. among the uniformed forces they will probably be around with the next government, be it a suleiman government or protestors government or whatever. they have an institutional interest that's distinct and they also have a variety of economic interests. the army here does a lot of business. max probably knows better than me but they're in the bottled water business, they run some resorts. so it's not clear how they're
going to respond to the directions they are going to receive from their civilian lead >> rose: what might cause them to say enough? we have encouraged them to talk, we have stood back but we can't do it any longer in the interest of egypt. >> i think the army has been waiting to see the outcome of this standoff. >> rose: how long can they wait is the question? >> exactly. that's the question. and i think it's become perhaps too damaging to egypt. there has been... a lot of people predicted there would be attrition among the protestors. that they'd get tired and go home. and the statements that people like omar suleiman have been making has suggested there's an expectation they'll get tired and go home. it hasn't happened and in fact the protest movement seems of the gained new converts and gained more strength. that suggests that if you are sitting there as a group of generals that you may be getting tired of this situation. i mean, so the idea of finding a
non-constitutional solution may begin to make sense. if it's not... if there isn't a solution happening within the constitution then perhaps it does make sense for some generals to say all right, we will take control, declare martial law perhaps. >> where is the momentum at the moment? >> i think the momentum right now is with the protestors. that could perhaps change again. but right now it's with the protestors. they've had an important addition to their strength in the last couple days, has been a real shift in the local egyptian media coverage of the whole protest movement egypt used to have a very government-controlled press and that is no longer the case. there's quite a large independent press in egypt. and for a long time there was a sort of vas nation on the part of the independent press but within the last week or so there's been a real swing to the side of the protestors who are
now being portrayed as young, dynamic patriotic, their martyrs are on television all the time. and this is... puts a real pow interthe hands of these guys that they didn't have before. >> rose: what about the muslim brotherhood? it is said that in the square they did not lead this rebellion but they have been incorporated into it and they bring organizational talent. because a secretive organization has to have organization. where do they stand today and what role do they play? >> i think the younger members did participate from the beginning but just like any other group. there were not the significant portion of these people who went out and demonstrated. basically i think the brotherhood realized they're not
the only movers of the streets and they have announced recently that they do not plant to participate or field the candidates in the coming elections as sort of a guarantee and so that the government or people would not use the brotherhood as a scare tactic against bringing reform to the country. that's one thing. on the other hand you've seen on protestors actually acknowledge the role of the brotherhood as a strong organizational force because they have been on the ground, they've been out protesting... they have an organizational structure so they did help them with the pro-mubarak demonstrators who came and attacked them with rocks and they were a lot of help in basically finding a structure getting a clinic running quickly, providing first aid, volunteer doctors, so there are reports but they're not the dominant force and not the only voice for sure among demonstrators. >> in every dramatic event there are always jokes that go around.
>> yes we were talking about that before where people imagined mubarak after he's died arriving in heaven greeted by president sadat and president nassar and they say "hosni, what was it? what got you? poison, an assassin?" and he says "no, facebook." >> rose: there's a grain of truth to that. >> yeah, although, at a certain point you've got to get up from your computer and walk out into the street. the pivotal moment on january 25 wasn't the fact that someone had posted a sign on the internet saying "come one, come all, let's have a protest." which was when this small group of organizers who were kind of right at the hard of this, a group of 37 young professionals were walking through the streets of poor neighborhoods, neighborhoods where people were not glued to their facebook and chanting "they're eating chicken and pigeon and we're having beans everyday. come down and protest." and you hear them now, they still do it. they walk through the streets and shout "come down egyptians, come down egyptians" and people pour out into the streets.
>> rose: why did this take so long? >> that's a very good question because i think the... a lot of the contributing factors have really built up slowly over a very, very long time. but i think there were kind of converging things that sparked this. one was the example of tunisia just up the road and showed it was possible to do this. egyptians for so long under a repressive government have lost the sense that it was possible to do this and that you could do it and that was a big inspiration. i think also the government has been getting more and more out of touch. in fact, someone commented to me that in some ways it looks like the egyptian government in the last couple years has been following the manual of how to have a revolution against yourself. they've systematically alienated... >> rose: is it the arrogance of power? >> it's arrogance of power and age, also. a lot of the people in charge are i would and out of touch and they're just too used to it. they're used to it and, you know for example there were elections
in december when the government party, the ruling party, basically just shut out the opposition and it was fraudulent everyone know, it was fraudulent and a lot of people thought it was just unnecessary. and what that did was to create a parliament which is so unrepresentative that it can't even serve as a valve to let off any steam. right now the parliament isn't functioning and it isn't contributing to resolving the current standoff. >> rose: it skips down the question of who's prepared to negotiate what. and so therefore that leaves and that may be the regime's intent, some divisions within? >> for sure that's the regime's intent. but i think i disagree a little bit with mona about whether this is really a kind of spontaneous cloud sourcing kind of revolt. i think there is a brain of this protest movement. >> rose: who is the brain? >> i think there's a group of young professionals in their early 30s who planned the first march and have taken a leadership since then. and i think the older protest
leaders-- many of whom are twice their age-- are listening to them and following their instructions. and i think those young people have kind of corraled their elders and made sure that nobody is going to go to the bargaining table. people who are used to doing business as the kind of domesticated house plant opposition under mubarak might be tempted to negotiate and they're saying "no, don't do it." >> rose: so where is mohammed el bare di in all this? >> where is mohammed elbaradei? not on the street, that's for sure. >> rose: some of the people who work with him or know him or are represented in the leadership? >> some of the young organizers are some of his supporters and they're the ones who put his name up there as a potential candidate. >> rose: does he have a serious role if, in fact, mubarak goes? >> well, it's hard to tell what would happen but when you're out on the streets you don't get the sense that he does have a big following. you do have a group of young people who are enthusiastic about the idea of mohammed
elbaradei. you also have no other sort of public figures that have had that backing so... he's also been passive in a way. he's chosen to follow the lead of young people who have been the ones moving the street. >> rose: and has he taken himself out of being a president? >> no, i think... >> well, he's been diffident which is not a way... that's not a way to get to be a president. >> rose: there's also this for me, the autocracy of this government and the idea that some express of the fear of some new kind of autocracy rising. real? >> i think it's a very real fear it's not a misplaced fear. all the tools of oppression are still there. the tools for the autocracy are still there and when people speak of a coup, it's not quite what kind of coup is this? is this a coup that produce a nice cozy military resdwlepl
will make a transition to democracy like in other countries? or are we talking about much more hard coup where you have martial law and... >> rose: let me refer you to the words of the secretary of state. the idea that the revolution might be hijacked. >> well, i'm not quite sure what context. >> rose: what context she said that? >> yeah. >> rose: i think she said that in terms of they're a little bit worried that they don't know... if in fact mubarak steps down what might happen and whether someone might come in and take advantage of what the courageous people in the square have established. is that a real... >> i think... certainly the people in the square are very aware of that and that's one of the reasons why they really want to capture the momentum now. while the state is weakened to push for the absolute maximum number of reforms possible. so there's less chance of going back. >> rose: tell me the since of
history and the overwhelming kind of moment this means for what you have witnessed. what sums up where we are? >> well, i mean, for me there were two really breathtaking moments that astounded me. one was watching the battle on the big friday protest, january 28, the battle on the bridge. i've never seen anything like it. i've never imagined anything like in the my life. it was thousands, i think, of heavily armed riot police backed by trucks, water cannons, tear gas, stun grenades. and they marched against thousands of protestors on the bridge and they pushed the protestors back almost to the edge of the bridge but they couldn't take it and then the protestors surged forward and it went back and forth, unarmed protestors versus heavily armed riot police all day, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. and by the end of the day the unarmed protestors took the bridge. they marched over the bridge and burned down the ruling party. and i think my god. >> rose: this is real. >> what is going on here?
>> rose: and the second moment? >> the second moment almost the same thing. after the police retreated that night, the next week, they sent out the ununiformed thugs who may have been off duty policemen for all i know. and they stormed tahrir square where the protestors had been camped out quite peacefully and they provoked the protestors. the protestors tried to be peaceful and then the rocks came flowing down and they were getting hammered and i thought what's going to happen here? these people are going to get massacred. and they fought back for 12 hours. and i went over there... there were rumors the military was going to crack down at dawn so i walked over there at 5:00 a.m. and they had just wrapped up and all the thugs were gone and the protestors held the square. 123r hours. they ripped up corrugated steel, they rolled over cars to build barricades. they broke up the sidewalk all throughout the square as fast as they could. they organized teams to carry stones to the front lines and other teams to throw them back at the thugs and they held the
square. and i thought, my god. >> rose: moments for you, max, in terms of where we are? you've been here for a while and you know the city and you know this country. >> well, i would just add that at the very beginning of the protests i saw the police effectively the very first day, the 25th of january when the first marches came out and it was in the tens of thousands, not hundreds of thousands like we have now. and protestors captured tahrir square and held it until the evening. but then the riot police took it back and that was using the methods that they've used for years and years. and it was pretty horrific. i mean, they had the square cleared in five minutes with an absolute cloud of tear gas back on thes, rubber bullets. the attack was brutal and highly effective. also thugs, plain-clothed thugs grabbing people and beating them up. i mean, the ruthlessness and efficiency of that was quite shocking. and that's what the protestors have been up against.
but then contrast that with the scene in a tahrir square in the last few days where this huge tent city has been set up and you have hundreds of thousands of people camped out there and they set up a many republic and the spirit of the place is so lively and sweet and has brought out what i think... you really feel egyptians sense they're recapturing something that they'd lost. >> rose: something that was in their soul. >> yeah. and there's a real joy there and quite a spectacular spirit. it's extraordinary and there's a gush of bad poetry and bad music but there's creativity there and you see egyptians of every class every age all mingling together. it's spectacularly well organized and it's like a sort of mini utopia. >> could we say this is their woodstock? it's very 1960s the whole experience has been very... it's a generation coming up. >> they're baby boom and...
>> the overthrowing of the patriarchy. not just the president but the patriarchal system in general. it's quite a profound historical month aside from the political outcome. it's about generations. >> rose: for you? >> two moments as well. so i think the first was basically on the angry friday standing outside one of the mosques and just at 1:00 i think it was exactly 1:00 thousands of people just flooded the streets and they defiantly chanted "the people want to bring down the regime." and it was just this moment where i realized that basically clearly the barrier of fear that had been there for so long was broken. and i think this is one of the most significant outcomes of what we've seen happen so far regardless of how the political situation develops. this is one thing. the second moment was when mubarak made his first speech addressing the protest that has been going on and he... it was a
ten-minute speech he made almost no concessions at all, hardly addressed what was going on in the streets and the demands of the people. but the interesting part was how... i was outside on the bridge, the demonstrators were still out there and everybody went quiet. they went to the cars, turned up their radios and tuned in, listened to every single word of the speech and right after started to chant that "down with mubarak." and it was interesting because normally egyptians don't listen to the president speak. i mean, they just don't think anything new will come out of it. they've lost any sense of interest. and this was a moment where i felt that they were beginning to feel like they really had a stake in what was going to happen and that they had a role to play in determining their fate in a way. and that was interesting. >> rose: thank you for coming. thank you david. great to have you here. we'll be back. stay with us. from cairo right over my
shoulder, the nile. >> rose: we continue from cairo with tom friedman, you know him from his many appearances on this broadcast and therefore you know that he has been in the this region many times. he has lived here. he has written about it and he has come to chai flow as many as several days, having also been in israel and having also been in jordan. there's no better person to talk to on this evening cairo than tom friedman. as we talked in this conversation, events are not to be known at this moment. something is happening. there is much talk that the president may step down. there's also much talk that the army is meeting. the army has the ultimate pow here and we do not know yet what they may do, nor do we know what the president may do at this time, nor do we know what the people in the street may do. but i want to begin with tom
friedman and have him tell us about his own experience in this region and when it began and so welcome and what a great moment it is to have you here, overlooking the nile at a country that is at the center of the world's attention with huge ramifications for the region and for the world. >> it's... i don't want to say it's the most amazing story i've ever covered because who knows over 40 years. but it's so remarkable in someone specific degree and that is the degree it has led from the bottom up. and the degree of which it is about no party, no faction. it's about the people of egypt it seems to be saying just a couple of very, very powerful things. one is i want the keys. you took the keys to my future away. you, mubarak, you, this government and i want the keys back. because we know what's going on in the world, we know we're
behind, we want to catch up. this is the first day of the rest of my life. >> rose: and i want the key to my future but i also want the key to have a voice in my country's future. >> absolutely. you go to the square and... i was really struck by one thing today, charlie. and i spent 20 minutes watching. i watched people clean the garbage in the square. young people. and they were collecting in the bags and it just... we've had this conversation before where we talked about the iraq war and the whole idea of why it's important to d.e.m. size a place like iraq. >> i think we today you the old aphorism that in the history of the world no one has ever watched a rented car. and the point i made about iraq is that no one's ever washed a rented country, either. and arabs have been renting their countries from kings, dictators and colonial powers their whole life and so they didn't wash them. so i was just sitting in the square watching... they're all young kids. cleaning the garbage, putting it neatly into bags.
i went up to one of them and i said "why are you doing this?" not challenging but i said "i want to hear you explain it." and he didn't have great english but it burst out of him. he said "this is my earth, this is my place, this is my home." and i just thought that's what it's about. there's a sense of ownership by a people who were motivated to go down there by a profound sense of self, charlie. a sense that something... the most precious thing had been stolen from them. their dignity, their ability to compete, the thrive, to shape their own future. and that's what they're reclaiming. when i walked out of the square, i was walking across that bridge out there and a guy stopped me he had two boys and his wife he said "i work in saudi arabia, i'm egyptian. i came back, i wanted to bring my two boys." they looked to be about eight years old. he said "i want them to see it,
i want it to be sered in their memory." >> rose: everybody knows this is a moment in history. >> absolutely. you also talk to people they know they're young, they also know that they're professional people. they're middle-class people. they're rich people. >> rose: tell me about the people you met who have changed egypt. whatever the outcome, as you have said, it will be before egypt and after egypt. >> yeah. there's a... i feel privileged, charlie, to be here. because if you're not here you can't understand it. because it's so unusual who's in the square? egypt's in the square. egypt of young men in genes. women in veils and women in very modern western clothes. there's a big thing, a poster they created today of a crescent moon and a cross inside.
and the whole message is we are here cops and muslims together. but the thing that's most amazing to me about it is the amount of creativity that has exploded. there's a sign there i saw today that tahrir square is the only free place in egypt today. maybe the only truly, truly free place for thousands of miles here. the amount of innovation. you see the creativity. some of the signs so r so funny, so clever. but today i got... i've got it here, i think. they put out their own newspaper. they've been there, what, 17 days? they've got their own newspaper it says "solidarity." they've got their own clinic. >> rose: and this is the google executive who had this dramatic interview on television. >> and, by the way, he's a very interesting thing inside. this blew my mind. so this is nasrulla, the
lebanese leader and it says "victory belongs to god not to nasrulla and not to ahmadinejad." and what is that about? to me there's two things i think we can say about this thing going nontahrir square. it feels to me like a tiger that's been living in about... you know, five foot by five foot cage all these years and the tiger is out. there's two things i'll tell you about that tiger, charlie. one is anyone who tries to put that tiger back in the cage, it is going to bite your head off. and anyone who tries to ride that tiger, to say it's about the muslim brotherhood or about leftism or pro americanism or about anti-americanism, these people are not going to let anyone ride them because they've been ridden way too long. >> rose: so what's the choice for the president of the united states?
>> i think one of the problems that we in america have had wrestling with this is i... and i've been gone for three weeks, i've been in the middle east before this so i hadn't tuned into the debate too much. but my sense is people think there are two choices. >> stability and instability. and that somehow we've got to find the stable path. so here's what i would simply say. charlie, stability has left the building, okay? so there are two choices now. there are two kinds of instability. we have the choice of an unstable situation because the old order is breaking down that gives birth to a new democratic egypt that will go through the kind of process that south africa and indonesia went through. and we'll find that way. it will be unstable, there will be ups and down, probably more here because the level of suppression and... but i think that really holds out the possibility. after this unstable transition of an egypt that is democratic and looks a lot like an
indonesia or south africa. the other choice is an unstable situation but where you're trying to constantly suppress what is coming up here authentically and you get an egypt that looks like pakistan under the general which is just another factory for anger and rage and what not. so i think we have to get off this stability kick. we're in a transition and stability is not on the men are you. >> rose: fair enough. but at the same time what's interesting is the army. >> yeah. >> rose: which you agree is the most powerful force at play here. and when the army talks they say one thing or two things "we're here for the egyptian people, we're here to preserve the institutions and we're here in a sense for egypt." >> right. >> and so therefore they are going to make sure that in the beginning that whatever happens to president mubarak, however he steps down today or tomorrow or if he suggested in september, it's more likely to be the former than the latter that they
are going to make sure that there is a stable process, a transition process. >> let me take that up but let me just say one more thing about america and the this whole stability question. and because you've got the israelis, you've got the saudis, you've got the u a e, jordan, kuwait. >> rose: all who are saying to the united states of mubarak because we worry about what it means for us. >> and to that i simply say, a, the egyptian people have already told mubarak. they have already speaken, number one. but this is their liberation story and we have to be... i think it's hugely important that we convey to them one way or another that we are not on the side of pharaoh, we're on the side of the children of egypt. this is... they're writing their liberation story right now and the sense you get from people in tahrir square-- and someone said that to me just this morning, we're trying twhef you have.
why can't you simply identify with that. what is so hard about saying whatever... we wish president mubarak well, we're grateful for his cooperation with us over the years, but ultimately a new story... a new song from egypt is being written here and we want you to understand we want this to be peaceful but we are with the forces of d.e.m. sieve. and that has not come through clearly. there's still a sense here that in the struggle between pharaoh and the children of egypt that we're kind of sort of more worried about pharaoh than the children of egypt. >> rose: what's interesting to me, too, is it seems to me this administration in washington, president obama, clearly with the talents he has should be able to explain... >> this is obama's story! >> rose:... that we're on the side of history here and that our commitment is to egypt. we're not abandoning a person, we are supporting a country. >> and, by the way, the people here have made that choice.
and i feel they've rendered that judgment. >> rose: what about israel? you were there. how do they see this and you have written that prime minister netanyahu needs to have a moment in which he gets on the right side of this? what does netanyahu do? >> well, first of all, i have a lot of sympathy and understanding for the israeli's view of strategic situation. they've had peace with egypt for 30 years, they abided by the treaty. >> rose: it's been the cornerstone of their policy. >> i think the challenge for israel is going to be the fact that it won't... it will no longer be able to have piece with one man. it will have to be with 80 million people. now i think the implications of that, what the israelis are going to have to understand is that don't make the mistake mubarak made. what was mubarak's mistake? the time to make big, hard decisions is when you have maximum leverage. when you can see farther, think more clearly.
mubarak had 30 years to make a big, hard decision, to put his country on a transition to democracy. he didn't do it. and last week he announced "i'm doing blah blah blah." too late, pal. israel does not want to be the hosni mubarak of the peace process. they have maximum leverage now with the palestinians. they have the best palestinian partner they've ever had. by their own admission, especially on the security front. now is the time to go to them and say we've got leverage, we've got a decent partner now, let's take a chance. because if they don't do that, charlie, this will really be a problem. that making peace with those 80 million egyptians will be a problem. who else has to pay retail? king of jordan has to pay retail. king of jordan had stability, he got to rule basically for all these years and then i'm changing the cabinet, i've got a new prime minister in, throw fairy dust in your eyes on reform and what not. no, no. now it's going to have to be real reform. that he was put on notice last week by his own east bank tribal leaders who basically criticized
the monomonarchy. i think what's most interesting is the muslim brotherhood. you see, we had a situation here in egypt where you had mubarak and the muslim brothers and nothing in between. no authentic legitimate modern party that was legitimate. you had the state party in middle, it wasn't legitimate. life was good if in your opinion the muslim brotherhood. you had to do two things. you haus had to say hosni mubarak is a zionist or islam is the answer and you won your 20%. so life was good. because mubarak had set up a world where it was either me or them. so he could go to washington sand say "it's either me or the muslim brotherhood." and he killed everything in between. hello! what you see in tahrir square is what's going to be in between. the muslim brotherhood is going to have to compete with a range of parties, some left, some right, somes in a sirists, some progressive. i don't know what they are going to have to pay retail now for their 20%.
they're not going to get it wholesale anymore and that's what's going to be interesting if this comes to pass and we still have to say we don't know. >> rose: but again the army will be there and they played a prominent role and so the army wins, the people in this street win if this comes the way it seems to be. mubarak doesn't lose. >> i think we don't want to get quite that far ahead. because let's say in the next 24 72 hours mubarak does cede power in some way, retire to sinai or wherever. you've still got the suleiman issue. and the question is do they understand what has to happen now? that they have to set up... >> rose: they do if the army tells them. >> that's true. does the army understand? because what is the thing? the thing is they have to set up a legitimate transition process with legitimate independent
figures who could preside over a transition here where a new constitution will be written, political party law will be created so anyone can create a political party and real politics... >> rose: constitutional change comes, emergency rule goes. >> and then you have an election some time... now, those kids in the square, they will be the judge whether this is real authentic and what not. >> rose: well, the most interesting thing i heard the vice president say was the notion "i'm not sure egypt and egyptian culture is ready for democracy. i'm not sure these people can manage their own affairs. i'm not sure that they can take on the responsibility." >> there's only one name for that, charlie, it's called the soft bigotry of low expectations and that's exactly what people in that square so resent. i talked to another guy today, he said... this was a wealthy person who actually benefited from the status quo but he wanted to be in the square because he wanted change.
he understood it was not stable. the one thing he said that really struck me was he said "i was embarrassed to tell people i was an egyptian. now after today i am not embarrassed. i feel like i'm leading not only just the arab world, they're like watching this in china." this place has so much untapped potential. egypt should have been the taiwan of the eastern mediterranean in terms of economics. suez canal, big work force, right next to europe. and yet they just drifted and because they drifted, the whole arab world drifted. because this is the center of gravity for the arab world. you change egypt. if this has any kind of decent positive outcome-- and i pray it will and right now i don't want to get ahead of it and we shouldn't-- but if it does it will have profound ramifications for this region and beyond. >> rose: tell me what they are
beyond their economic prosperity. beyond the fact that you have a young demographic here-- and in most of the middle east and in iran as well, a non-arab state-- beyond that, what is it that will make this place, this region come beyond a change in their economic future and a change in the ability to shape their lives. >> two things, charlie. i go back... you have to really appreciate this. there's something so authentic about this revolution. it is not owned by anybody. it is from the ground up. it's built on real bloodshed in that square to preserve that space and that authenticity, the sense that they can preserve it here, has such a power and there will be other people in this region who will want to emulate that and maybe beyond. the other thing i can say is i was thinking about my friend curt carlson who runs the stanford research institute said
to me, and it's just fascinating to see this play out in the square. we're talking about today's wired technological world. he said "everything top down now is dumb and slow and everything bottom up is smart but chaotic." >> rose: what i love about this story is you take a google executive... >> that's right! you couldn't make that up. (laughs) >> rose: one of the most successful companies in the world today and a leader of the technological revolution. is having a political impact because of his own personal courage. so it's people with comfortable eyes are saying there's something beyond my own security that makes a difference to me and it's the human experience that makes a difference. the other thing is this notion-- and we don't know where this goes-- you talk about the world being flat in the book that became such a big best-seller.
that book came to china and india around the world would rise because they had access to technology and put them on the same footing. essentially that was the argument. how does it change politics now? what are the implications for politics in iran, in places in which there are dictatorships like burma and other places? >> we're going to study this for a long time. twitter, facebook, did not cause this revolution. >> rose: exactly. they were used, they gave the tools. >> exactly. this is about a huge cohort, $100 million in this whole region under the age of 25, deeply frustrated but in a flat world able to see how other people live, aspire to how they live. they know what's going on. and in that sense technology has been very important and now they not only can communicate just to each other but they can
communicate frustrations and going forward every leader. the mn some guy says something people are tweeting about it now people are commenting on it and i don't think we've begun to fully understand the implications of this. there's a huge richness coming up from below. that's curt's point. government's job, i think is going to be increasingly how do we enable that, inspire it, is edit it so we get the best out of it and suppress the worst or the most vile. but the old top-down model of command and control, that is so over and this place was the pyramids. >> rose: and especially control of information. >> absolutely. >> rose: the interesting thing is how well it was used for organization. they were able to communicate with each other about organizing and bringing people together and getting them to the right place and also using it to throw off authorities who they knew were tracing them one way or another because they had some access to the same kind of technology. >> and this struck me, being in
the square, it happened again today but this has happened everyday i'm used to the days where can i get your first name or something and it's "you sufficient bin mohammed. i'm 39 years old, i work here, i want my name in your paper. i want people to know i am here. i want hosni mubarak to... did you e-mail him your story so he knows i'm here?" that's what's going on. >> rose: let me go finally before we end this conversation to this idea that people who concern themselves about autocracy of a different kind, people... and it's not just in terms of stability, which is a word that we have discussed earlier, people who concerned themselves about autocracy are people who say i worry that we maintain the kinds of
institutions without the kinds of abuse we have had. how do we make sure that we don't... >> get overwhelmed by everything coming up. >> we don't lose it. we create something remarkable with huge potential and we lose it or as secretary clinton says, somebody hijacks it. >> right. you know, in every one of these revolutions, these transitions to democracy we've seen one of my real teachers on this, larry diamond of stamford said to me today you have to no when to start it and when to stop it and move to a political arena. i just came fear a press conference of the young leaders who were just announced the kind of bigger council of elders or wise men that they will be calling on to do that. so if it's true that mubarak has stepped down, stepped back, retired, ceded power, it's really vital now that that
legitimacy in the square translate itself into two things. one is a platform, an agenda, here's what we want and legitimate authorities to negotiate that on their behalf. that's going to be very important because the army's also had kind of a nice ride here. but if they are now... if they have pushed mubarak out, they are going to have to be in a negotiating process here and the question is do they get it? do they get it that this only ends when egypt on a stable transition to democracy and the arm has got to be part of that. and that means their perks, their privileges at some point may be up for negotiation as well. not right away. that's going to be part of the process as well. >> rose: it is clear that, in fact, as you said, things have changed and the question is whether parties who may not have the same interest, if the
president-- and i've just heard through a communication with me there the control room that he's announced he's going to speak tonight. so if he's announcing he's going to be speak he wouldn't speak unless he had something to say that was important. >> i would assume he's out of the picture one way or another. >> rose: that the parties... and this is what is so icy, are prepared to listen to each other. that it's not everybody saying i won, you lost, you'll listen to me. but that in a sense you take what is possible and make sure that no one thinks that they have the only answer as to where the future can be. >> well, i think if they can translate with what the young people call the spirit, which is precisely that, we're here as christians and muslims, we're here as rich and poor, we're here as countryside and city. we're all really trying to respect each other. if mubarak steps out of the way,
there was such anger, such rage of... and, again, it's that sense of theft. this guy stole my future, i don't want to see him for another day. i think if help steps out of the way it's going to unlock a lot of healthy... so much was focused on him. it's going to unlock a lot of healthy thinking but also unlock tensions of people do have different views now of how we use this legitimacy to promote what platform, what agenda at what what speed. and so this will take a? really interesting turn going forward. i'm still hopeful. i think that's what we should all be. and i really hope now the united states and not just a sense... because we didn't start this, we so exaggerate our role, and everything gets turned into is obama up, is obama down? i think what's responsibility that democracy groups like n.d.i. in america and different n.g.o.s involved in democracy promotion, i was talking to one of the older people in the
square but a doctor who's definitely part of this process he said what we desperately need are the building blocks of civil society. mubarak never let us have that. the only people who have it are muslim brothers. so they have powerful n.g.o.s. they have the ability to organize. they have a political arm. the authentic very powerful group, they don't have that. and the best thing we can do... two things we can do for egypt that would... one is at the n.g.o. end level get over here. get over here and simply volunteer not to order, not direct, not dictate but to say do you need to know how to organize these kind of things? here's our experience. >> rose: egypt can now open itself up to all of the intelligence and all of the creativity in the world to join their own process. >> and there's one last thing we can do if i were obama i would say we give egypt a billion plus in military aid every year.
i have order... i, president obama, or i'm going to negotiate with the congress, we're going to start by taking $100 billion out of that military budget and we are going to build ten science and technology high schools starting one right up the nile up to alexandria. we're going to name each one after egyptian nobel prize winning chemists because what this country desperately needs and craves are the tools of the a modern education, the talent is here, the brain power is here but they have not been given that opportunity. if obama said that he could reverse our position here overnight. >> rose: finally i just heard another report that the army may not let the president speak. >> whoa! >> rose: that says all the things that we've been hearing here which makes this both extraordinary and all of us in the end don't exactly know where the next... but we do know this and i want to sum up on this. this has been a moment in
history that will change things so if you will be will be writing a column. if this is the first draft-- as journalism is-- the significance of this revolution, what's in the first paragraph? >> you know, charlie, i go back to this sense of authenticity. so i've... i went to school off tahrir square in 1974, studied arabic for a summer at the university of cairo and really it's been a unending tale of inauthentic politics. parties started by governments or inspired or paid for, what not. i've never seen anything like this. that is so... it has a truth to it. again, if you... i just so wish everyone could see this, everyone could touch this. i've never seen anything like this that is this awe then nick
this part of the world and that's what everyone's going there to touch. there are... in some ways, charlie, there are like two meccas now in the middle east. there's the mecca in saudi arabia where you go to get closer to god if you're a muslim and knew there's one in tahrir square where you go to touch, smell, taste, and celebrate freedom and that's what's going on here. i don't know how this ends. i have no idea. hoping for a good result. fighting with that voice in my head that says "there aren't a lot of happy endings out here." but it's real, it's legitimate. pack your bags if you're a journalist or historian, come over here, touch it, this play you've just never seen before. >> rose: thank you for coming. great to have you. >> great to be here. >> rose: tom friedman of the "new york times", a historic moment, a story unfolds, we will continue to follow it. thank you for joining us from cairo. see you next time.